Archive for the ‘James Kent’ Category

The Virtues of Vera

Testament of Youth

testament_of_youth_ver2

Director: James Kent

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harrington, Taron Egerton, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Hayley Atwell, Miranda Richardson, Colin Morgan, Joanna Scanlan

Swedish actress Alicia Vikander has come a long way from her vivacious debut  as Kitty in Joe Wright’s film Anna Karenina.

In director James Kent’s film adaptation of the 1930’s novel Testament of Youth, Vikander plays aspiring novelist and soon to be pacifist Vera Brittain. The film opens in an idyllic setting  resembling an English summer garden with Vera and her brother Edward played by rising star Taron Egerton, last seen in Legend along with his friends Victor Richardson played by Colin Morgan and the dashing Roland Leighton, wonderfully played by Kit Harrington of the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones.

As a petulant young woman, Brittain objects to her father buying her a piano and strongly presents her case to her parents played by Emily Watson and Dominic West that all she really desires is to go to Oxford and study literature and classics.

testament_of_youth

At the outset of Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain is portrayed as a strong-minded young woman who was extremely close to her brother Edward and his group of friends which were all destined to study at Oxford. Destiny has different plans when in 1914, Europe is plunged into the bloody and brutal First World War, which initially everyone who enlisted thought would only lost a couple of months.

Her brother and his friends all enrol into the British army and go and fight in France, in the muddy trenches and soon the War develops into a brutal protracted affair. Vera soon abandons her plans for Oxford and enrols to be a nurse to assist the war effort.

Unlike Joe Wright’s brilliant and beautiful adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement about doomed love during the Second World War, Testament of Youth does not maintain the same emotional resonance although dealing with similar themes. Vikander holds her own as the passionate and outspoken Vera Brittain.

Her quest to find her brother Edward, leads her to the front lines in France in 1917 where she is forced to take care not only for wounded British soldiers but also for the wounded and dying German soldiers, making her realize that despite the politics, war effects everyone equally, a devastating loss for both the victorious and defeated nations.

Which is precisely why over a hundred years later, Armistice Day is still celebrated on the 11th November as a commemoration of those countless lives sacrificed during World War 1 and a warning about the perils of embarking on future wars which is especially relevant in the conflict strewn geo-political arena of the 21st century.

After World War 1, Vera Brittain became a vocal pacifist and an anti-war campaigner. She dealt with her huge grief by publishing all the letters of her brother and his friends as well as her own memoirs in 1933 of that horrific time during the war, where she witnessed the brutality and infinite loss of life first hand as a nurse.

Testament of Youth is a fascinating look at the naivety of war through the eyes of a generation which were obliterated by its devastating effects. At some point the film, does not manage to maximise the emotional resonance, which films like Atonement and The English Patient did so brilliantly.

Nevertheless Testament of Youth remains a damning anti-war indictment and an accurate historical portrait of a lost generation, right down to the soft focus production design and period costumes.

Audiences should look out for cameo appearances by Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited) as well as Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria, Damage) as the stern Oxford professor who recognizes Vera Brittain’s potential as a young writer. Recommended viewing for ardent fans of historical cinema.

Source: Vera Brittain

 

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
May 2018
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
  • Cannes Film Review: ‘Murder Me, Monster’
    A flock of sheep, fleeces and faces splattered with blood, mill around the camera in ovine alarm. The source of the blood is revealed: a young farmer standing among them, with an enormous spurting gash across her throat, so deep you can see tendons and perhaps even the white of bone. It’s a shocking image […]
    Jessica Kiang
  • Janet Jackson References #MeToo in Icon Award Speech at Billboard Music Awards
    Superstar and Billboard Icon Award recipient Janet Jackson made her stance on the MeToo movement clear during her acceptance speech at the awards show Sunday night, and thanked God for her artistic career. “I believe that, for all of our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history,” she began, after performing her 1986 hit […]
    Erin Nyren
  • ‘Westworld’ Recap: Shogun’s Army Comes to Town
    Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Akane No Mai,” the fifth episode of the second season of HBO’s “Westworld.” “This is just the tip of Shogun world’s prick — an experience expressly designed for the guests who find Westworld too tame.” Thus we are introduced, courtesy of Lee Sizemore, to the hotly anticipated Shogun […]
    Daniel Holloway
  • Shawn Mendes, Khalid Joined by Parkland School Choir in Gun Control Statement at Billboard Awards (Watch)
    The Billboard Music Awards worked a delicate balance Sunday night between serious issues like school shootings, mental health and suicide, and the usual “Let me hear you make some noise!” awards-show fare. In the show’s second moment addressing the recent epidemic of school shootings — following Kelly Clarkson’s tearful introduction — Shawn Mendes and Khalid […]
    Jem Aswad
  • Chainsmokers and Halsey Honor Avicii at Billboard Music Awards
    Avicii, the beloved Swedish DJ and producer, was honored at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night by The Chainsmokers and Halsey. Before presenting the award for Top Hot 100 Song of 2018 to Luis Fonsi for “Despacito,” the Chainsmokers’ Alex Pall and Drew Taggart told the thousands gathered at Las Vegas’ Grand Garden Arena […]
    Shirley Halperin